Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis refers to small bulging sacs that can develop in the inner lining of the intestine as the result of diverticulitis. They are most commonly located in the large intestine, and these sacs commonly become infected or inflamed. It is not understood what causes the sacs of diverticulosis to form, but it is likely that not getting enough fiber in one's diet is a likely cause. The symptoms vary depending upon the severity, as do the options for treatment. In most cases, the prognosis is generally good, and the condition can be managed without major symptoms.

What Causes Diverticulosis

Eating a diet that is low in fiber is recognized as one of the most likely causes of diverticulosis. Processed foods including white rice, white bread, pretzels, crackers, and many breakfast cereals are staples in the diets of many people, but they do not contain adequate amounts of fiber. Without enough fiber in one's diet, constipation and hard stools are common problems. This causes people to strain during bowel movements, increasing pressure in the intestines or colon. Diverticulosis pouches or sacs may form as the result of this. Diverticulosis is a very common condition that is present in more than half of the American population over the age of 60. In the majority of cases, diverticulosis does not progress into diverticulitis which occurs when small pieces of stool become trapped in the pouches or sacs. This can lead severe infections or inflammation.Many people with diverticulosis experience no noticeable symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are generally mild and include cramping or bloating in the lower abdominal region or occasional blood in their stool or on the toilet tissue after a bowel movement. If diverticulitis develops, the symptoms are typically more severe and include tenderness in the abdomen, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, and bloating.

Diagnosing Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis may be diagnosed based upon the result of tests including CT scans and ultrasounds or x-rays of the abdomen. Blood tests may be performed to determine if an infection is present. There is no cure for diverticulosis, but there are steps patients can take to reduce their risk of developing diverticulitis or experiencing major symptoms. Dietary changes including increased fiber consumption and avoiding certain foods such as beans, nuts, or seeds may be necessary. Doctors may also advise patients to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can make constipation worse. In most cases, diverticulosis can be managed. If diverticulitis develops, immediate medical attention is necessary to ensure the best possible prognosis.


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